Gonzalez’s final regular season tune-up a strong one (Nats win 5-1)

VIERA, Fla. - It’s 5-1 Nationals here in the eighth inning at Space Coast Stadium in what’s turned into a minor league game.

Neil Holland, who spent nearly all of last season at high Single-A Potomac, has worked the last two innings for the Nats.

Remarkably, despite having been with the Nationals for two full springs now, Gio Gonzalez hadn’t made a start at Space Coast Stadium until today. All five of his Grapefruit League outings last spring came on the road, and his first four big league spring starts this year were all away from Viera, as well.

Four of those nine Grapefruit League outings coming into today were actually in Jupiter.

“I think they’ve got my jersey framed over there,” Gonzalez joked.

Gonzalez came into today’s outing knowing he didn’t need to do anything fancy. Go out there, throw strikes, get in a handful of innings and pack the rest of his things before hopping aboard the team charter to D.C.

He did just that, throwing four scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks and striking out seven.

“Just trying to get work in a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “Pound first-pitch strikes, get the first out of every inning. That’s what Kurt (Suzuki) and I, we were sitting down right out of the bullpen, we were talking about that: What do you want to work on today, what do you want to do? Obviously, it’s the last game, you don’t want to slack.

“Thing is everyone’s trying to get ready, everyone’s already mentally in D.C. right now. You can see we’re still swinging, we’re still playing, we’re still having fun. But at the same time, we’re looking forward to getting ready and staying healthy for D.C.”

Gonzalez finishes spring having thrown just 18 Grapefruit League innings, but he got in six frames during a minor league game and five more during his lone start in the World Baseball Classic.

His schedule was thrown off a bit by the WBC, but Gonzalez says he feels he accomplished all he needed to this spring.

“Yeah, still trying to get the arm strength back, trying to build velocity and this and that,” Gonzalez said. “I feel like as the game went on, my arm felt better. Started to get a little stronger, started throwing a little more. But again, one step at a time.”

Asked if he was ready get out of Florida, Gonzalez looked down at his fully packed bag.

“I’m ready to go,” he said. “I’m ready to jump on that plane and get back to D.C.”

Update: Rafael Soriano worked a scoreless ninth, walking one and fanning two to finish off a 5-1 Nationals victory.

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